Justin Williams scored early in overtime and the host Los Angeles Kings defeated the New York Rangers 3-2 in the opening game of the Stanley Cup finals.
Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi gave the puck away deep in his own end and the Kings’ Mike Richards got it to Williams, who put the puck over New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist’s shoulder after four minutes, 36 seconds of the extra period.
“I was sitting in front of the net with the puck and was able to make a shot,” Williams said in a news conference.
Game 2 in the best-of-seven National Hockey League championship series is set for June 7, also at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The series then moves to New York’s Madison Square Garden for the following two games.
“It’s disappointing when you lose, especially when you’re that close,” Lundqvist told reporters. “It was a pretty fun game to play, with a lot of action on both ends. It could’ve gone either way.”
The Kings, who were able to overcome an early two-goal deficit, outshot the Rangers 43-27 -- including a 20-3 advantage in the third period, in which Los Angeles took the first 13 shots.
The teams were scoreless in the third period, which the Kings ended on a power play. Los Angeles defenseman Drew Doughty’s goal early in the second period had tied the game 2-2.
Doughty’s tying goal came when he squeezed a shot between the body and the right arm of Lundqvist.
Benoit Pouliot and Carl Hagelin had scored first-period goals for the Rangers and Kyle Clifford scored for the Kings during an action-packed opening period in which there were 27 shots on goals and all the scores came in the final seven minutes.
Pouliot opened the scoring with 6:39 left in the first period when he stole the puck from Doughty and came in alone on Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick, flipping a wrist shot past him.
“It was a bad turnover, I wasn’t happy with myself,” Doughty said. “We won and that’s the best thing about it, but we didn’t do a lot of things right.”
The Rangers were killing a penalty three minutes later when Hagelin scored his team-leading seventh goal of the playoffs. His shot on a breakaway was stopped by Quick, but the rebound trickled into the net off the left skate of Kings defenseman Slava Voynov.
Clifford got the Kings on the scoreboard 2 1/2 minutes later when he took a Jeff Carter pass from behind the net and put a quick shot past Lundqvist.
It is the first time the Rangers and Kings have met in a Stanley Cup finals, and the first championship-round showdown since 1981 between teams from New York and Los Angeles in any major sport. The Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the New York Yankees in baseball’s World Series 33 years ago.
“Right now, it’s just disappointment,” New York forward Brad Richards said. “We’ll forget tonight, think about what we did right and wrong, and we’ll work on those in the next game.”